The Artwork of Michael Divine

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Neighborhoods and Coffee or Vice Versa

March 21st, 2007

Oh Coffee – bitter nectar of the jungles – fierce stimulator of the nerves – acidic, I make you sweet and creamy – too hot, I sip anyway – O Coffee – How I love thee. Let me count the ways…

Ok then. While he is off doing that, I will take this moment to tell you about my neighborhood. I live in a suburban neighborhood, you see, in San Diego. I have spent so many years either in the middle of nowhere or the middle of everything that it is strange to be back again in the in-between purgatory of Suburbia. It is so strange and seemingly far away from the action- either the community kind of urban action or the out in the woods and mountains natural action. In a sense, it is like the forest- I go outside and I am surrounded by a wilderness. There is a stillness and a strangeness. Yet, in the woods, I feel more akin to the trees than my neighbors. Let me tell you about my neighbors… Who are the people in my neighborhood, in my neighborhood.. in my neigh-bor-hood…

Well to our immediate left is Mrs. Valez. There may be a Mr. Valez, but we are suspicious that there is not because we have never seen such a person though we think our landlord had told us there is one. Most of her extended family lives there with her at varying times of the day. If we keep our front windows open (and they are big windows and let in a lot of fresh air…) their stale old cigarette smoke drifts in. Yuck. At least they talk in Spanish all the time and so we don’t have to actually understand what they are saying when we hear them. If the mind hears English then it is hooked into the conversation because it understands the words. I don’t want to know their dramas.

To my immediate right is a fellow who is married with a little baby. We never see the wife and he works nights. He says he’s thinking bout moving to Dallas, TX. Says he can’t agree with the politics of California. Okay then there goes that dinner invitation.

Two doors down, on the other side of the Valez’ is a woman who is always going through her garage. She’ll empty a bunch of stuff out only to put it all back in at the end of the day. She’s overweight and seems to maybe have an obsessive/compulsive issue with the garage. Every so often she’ll have a tag sale. One day I saw her empty a good deal of stuff out of there- a patio furniture set (Hey! We could use one of those!), a shopping cart, a roll of small picket fencing… it just goes on. And then she puts it all back in.

Down on the corner at the house with all the bushes, they take great pride in Holidays. On Halloween the pale chubby kids and their pale chubby parents made a haunted house – with strobe lights. What’s scarier than strobe lights? Everyone is afraid of seizure induction. On Christmas they went crazy with the cheesewhiz and had lights up the wazoo. But then, so did many others. We had considered going around to all the inflatable snowmen, snowglobes and whatever else which are running 24/7 and sucking away tons of electricity, and shooting them with a BB gun. But then there would just be more plastic for the landfill. Since we couldn’t decide which fate was worse, we left them alone.

There is the dude across the street who I see at 8 am sometimes drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette. There is the neighbor whose dogs HOWL starting at 10am. Sucks to be us when we have stayed up super late. There is a cat who walks along the street howling. It just kind of howls this cold grey howl, telling everyone what side of the fence (or sidewalk or road) is his. We let our cat out once to see him. Fi went running up to him and the cat hissed and ran off. Poor Fi, he was bummed. So much for new friends.

And so this is why I get so much done- there isn’t anything else to do! Thank god for no distractions! We’ve got a sizable garden we have been creating that I might write about later, I’ve got several paintings I am working on, and a number of other projects. I’m Productive and we have turned our little corner into a perfectly hospitable pad.

Neighborhoods….

The Artwork of Michael Divine

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